A BlackBerry smartphone isn’t our usual mobile device. Since the network providers started offering affordable BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) plans here in the Philippines, Pinoys started to appreciate its unique features and uses, and began flocking to the stores to get one.
What’s really in a BlackBerry that makes it sell? I recall an instance when a celebrity was telling me about how useful his BlackBerry was; especially that he has a lot of friends and family members outside the Philippines. Now that I personally own one, I understand what he’s talking about.
How about others? What do they think?
Just recently, we conducted a survey to a small group of BlackBerry users and asked them the following: (1) mobile brand they used prior to BlackBerry, (2) what they like most about BlackBerry, (3) what needs to be improved, (4) significant impact of BlackBerry in their lives, and (5) the reasons to ditch the BlackBerry.
While RIM has won a lot of customers into using a BlackBerry, it’s very unfortunate that most of the “switchers” are the previously loyal users of the Symbian platform.
Indeed, it is a true testament that quantity does not win over functionality. Even if RIM has only released quite a few models, its unique messaging and social networking functionalities have kept the company’s sales on track.
In retrospect, we know that Filipinos are naturally cheerful and hard working. We love to talk, to check up on friends, and to share even the small things we encounter every day. We try to juggle several things and still manage to be able to live up to all our day-to-day responsibilities.
This is why BlackBerry’s push email, Twitter and Facebook, instant messaging, and BlackBerry Messenger are key features that Filipinos have learned to love, not to mention its fun-to-use QWERTY keypad and cool trackpad.
With the BIS conveniently in our hands, BlackBerry has definitely given freedom and flexibility of communication to users.
Push email has enabled businessmen to leave the office without their laptops and still be able to answer emails anywhere and everywhere.
BlackBerry Messenger has provided families and friends overseas ways to be connected to their loved ones who were left behind. Also, meetings became very handy and light, since notes are automatically kept in the phones and conversations are recorded instantly.
Lastly, social networking applications have aided in improving social interaction, building positive relationships, and providing more awareness on critical matters of the society.
Even with its outstanding characteristics, the BlackBerry also has areas of improvement. Most users would like to see a higher resolution, to have a better camera, to get a bigger storage space, to use better applications, and to feel a faster data processor. All these would surely give users a better mobile experience, whether for business or for fun.
Survey respondents have also said that they will give up their BlackBerry if and when another brand has managed to come up with features close to what RIM offers today which is very unlikely as BlackBerry has features that other smartphones don’t have or have yet to master.
As other manufacturers strive to steal RIM’s market share, there’s surely a lot of work to be done in order to stay in the game. The challenges now lie on how fast RIM will catch up on current innovations and how they will use their present strengths in order to lessen the threats of upcoming phones.
This article is my twenty-seventh contribution to Manila Bulletin -- one of the Philippines' leading broadsheets -- published on August 10, 2011 (Wednesday) in the Tech101 Section. You can view the PDF version here.
Photo Source: Manila Bulletin